Ancient Architecture and Spatial Technology: A Global Perspective

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Spatial technology is our primary tool for in-field and remote recording of ancient architecture. Advances in our ability to detect and record architecture as part of the archaeological record have come from greater access to high precision surveying instruments and a variety of remote sensing techniques, including laser scanning. In turn, spatial modeling to perform analyses and create 3D representations can provide insights in to the past. Since architecture is used as a metric to reconstruct social organization, identity, and other key elements of the past, it is crucial that we engage the question of how advances in spatial technology have shaped the ways in which we investigate and interpret architecture in the archaeological record. The purpose of this symposium is to bring together case studies and regional reviews that reflect on the myriad of ways we study ancient architecture. The geographical and temporal scope of the session is purposefully broad to encourage dialog between different regions and research problems.

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  • Documents (12)

  • 3D Modeling – Breakthrough or Fad? Bronze Age Towers in Oman and Excavations of an Aksumite Town in Ethiopia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Harrower. Kathleen M. O'Meara. Ioana A. Dumitru. Clara J. Hickman. Jacob L. Bongers.

    Three-Dimensional modeling is rapidly transforming reconstruction, visualization and conceptualization of ancient architecture. Many archaeologists are enthusiastic about 3D modeling and implementation of 3D methodologies has been rapid; others remain skeptical that the outcomes of 3D modeling justify the time and resources expended. This paper considers the strengths, weaknesses, and future prospects of 3D models. We discuss results of two projects that used photogrammetry and advanced GPS to...

  • 3D Saqqara: Using 3D GIS to reconstruct visibility and communal memory at an Egyptian necropolis (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elaine Sullivan.

    The integration of GIS and 3D modeling now allows for the recreation and visualization of entire ancient landscapes. 3D Saqqara uses these capabilities to create a truly four-dimensional exploration of the cemetery of Saqqara, Egypt. The project offers a workflow for how 2D archaeological and architectural data can be transformed into 3D representations of the ancient built and natural environment, while maintaining the geo-spatial coordinate system of GIS and allowing for both quantitative and...

  • Advances and changes in the surveying and mapping of Guatemalan archaeology aided by new information technologies (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rodrigo Guzman.

    Guatemalan archaeology is benefiting from new technologies for the monitoring and measurement of spatial information. Traditionally, archaeologists have relied on specialists in mapping and surveying to record spatial data and use it as the basis for the study of distribution of cultural traits. However, advances in mapping technology which allow non-specialists to collect multiple data points in shorter amounts of time is greatly aiding archaeologists working at sites in Guatemala. Other...

  • Agency of Access: Public Architecture in Mesa Verde National Park (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kelsey Reese. Timothy Kohler.

    There are many architectural features in the Mesa Verde region that have been defined as "community centers," or rather, specific areas of cultural and social significance. Community centers may contain several public features, including a: Great Kiva, Reservoir, Great House, Plaza, Tower, and others. Although these features are assumed to have served a large surrounding population, the placement of these structures on the landscape can help us understand the ease with which the surrounding...

  • Architecture in Negative: Mapping Social Space at Carrizales, Peru Using Low Altitude Aerial Photography and Photogrammetry (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Chester Walker. Nathaniel VanValkenburg. Mark Willis.

    In the late 16th century CE, Spanish administrators and clergy sought to reconstitute indigenous Peruvian subjects by forcibly resettling them into planned towns called reducciones. Mapping domestic space in these new settlements (and those that preceded them) has been a crucial element of archaeological research that seeks to understand reduccion's impact on native households. However, on the Peruvian coast, where both late prehispanic and early colonial period domestic structures are dominated...

  • Clear Views from the Ground: 3D Modeling of Architecture and Rock Art from Chaco to Anguilla (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Wetherbee Dorshow. Patricia Crown. John Crock.

    Airborne LiDAR and orthophotography are increasingly ubiquitous in modern archaeological research, particularly at the regional scale. For detailed intrasite analyses of architectural sites, rockshelters, and caves, however, these airborne technologies offer limited utility. This paper highlights the significant research potential and conservation value of very high-resolution terrestrial LiDAR and gigapan HDR photogrammetry for architectural and "built" cultural dwelling places. Drawing on two...

  • Geospatial archaeology and architecture in the Andes (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nicholas Tripcevich.

    Emerging geospatial technologies have been applied to archaeological research problems in the Andean region by many researchers and this paper will provide a regional review of these contributions to architectural studies. Aerial remote sensing, both at regional and local scales, geophysical sensing, and mapping technologies like laser scanners and photogrammetry have enabled Andeanists to document architecture and construction features with new precision. Advances in geospatial software has...

  • Mapping and feature classification of low altitude orthomosaics using geospatial image analysis in a planned colonial town in highland Peru (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gabriela Ore Menendez. Steven Wernke.

    Large archaeological settlements with complex architecture have been always difficult to map. The introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles to fly over sites has helped reduce the time and increase precision of archaeological mapping; nevertheless post-processing time is still a workflow bottleneck. We present a geospatial imagery-based methodology for identifying and mapping surficially-visible structures and environmental features at a late pre-Hispanic and colonial settlement with extensive...

  • Mapping the Monumental Architecture of the Largo Gap Great House (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kristin Safi. Adam Wiewel. Katie Simon. Andrew Duff.

    This study combines spatial technology with traditional field methods to accurately identify and map the monumental architecture of the late Pueblo II Largo Gap great house. Although previous visits by early researchers to the site identified monumental architectural characteristics typically associated with Chaco-style great houses (primarily the presence of a great kiva), the surface expression of such features is currently lacking. Rubble present along the steep slopes of the knoll upon which...

  • Reflections on digital data acquisition and analysis at Chavín de Huántar, Peru (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Daniel Contreras.

    The monumental center of Chavín de Huántar in the Peruvian Central Andes has been the subject of mapping efforts for more than a century, and of digital mapping efforts since the mid-1990s. Spatial technology has been fundamental to significant revision of the site’s construction sequence, definition and extent, and ultimately interpretation. This results from the site’s complex, three-dimensional, and often-obscured architecture, mapping which has only become practical – and perhaps even...

  • Spatial Technology and the Search for Archaic State Society in the Hawaiian Islands (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mark McCoy.

    Architecture holds a special place in archaeological reconstructions of past societies. I discuss how advances in the application of spatial technology in the study of architecture in the Hawaiian Islands has put us in a better position to describe how the creation of an archaic state society shaped this all-important material indicator of social change. I draw upon forms that are commonplace – house complexes, fields, and small temples and shrines – as well as less common classes of...

  • Visibility Graph Analysis of Monumental Buildings in Iron Age Turkey (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only James Osborne.

    Visibility Graph Analysis, or VGA, is a means of evaluating architectural environments based on a number of properties of intervisibility between points distributed within two-dimensional building plans. Created by Alasdair Turner for modern architects as a way to further space syntax analysis (itself based on patterns of accessibility instead of visibility), archaeologists have slowly been incorporating VGA into their work over the past decade. In this paper I outline the stages involved with...